The application deadlines for several programs I am applying to are December 1st and two of my recommenders haven't submitted their letters yet. (Admittedly probably should've asked this question before now.) I asked both of them in October, they both said they would be happy to write the recommendation. I sent follow ups which they acknowledged two weeks before the deadline and then an additional follow up 3 days before as well as the request from the application system.

Is there anything I can do to still have a valid application?

Update the professor submitted but two days late. Fingers crossed.

  • Note that the deadline for recieving reference letters may be later than the deadline for recieving the application. Commented Dec 1, 2020 at 22:07

1 Answer 1


You have done what you can, I think. Most likely it will turn out ok for two reasons.

First is that letters do tend to get written, even by procrastinators. And many professors are, indeed, procrastinators. But if you ping them three days in advance it is about all you can do.

Second is that the recipients also realize that professors are procrastinators and, being professors themselves will make some allowances in most (not all, alas) cases. The final decisions about things won't be made on the deadline dates and the staff will spend some time gathering things together for some future meeting. It is an easy task to add late arrivals.

They might not be so forgiving of the applicant as they are of each other, of course.

Relax for now. If it becomes a problem then the recipients will let you know an you will almost certainly get a chance to explain and correct it.

  • Almost certainly? I've heard of departments that toss apps with two few LoRs. They can't follow up with all of them. Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 15:52

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